The Combined Harare Residents Association has engaged stakeholders in a participatory budget meeting in a bid to generate awareness on the need to foster inclusivity in the budget making process.
The workshop informed on the legal issues, challenges as well as fostered recommendations that potentially improve council budgeting in order to be more participatory.
The workshop urged council to be more inclusive in dealing with stakeholders in the compilation of budgets as the general citizens had a central role to play in budget formulation processes.
“There is need for council to be more inclusive in its processes of budget formulation. There seem to be a complacency among councils in terms of considering the residents as a key stakeholder in the budget formulation process. How then do councils meet their customers’ needs if they isolate them.” Mrs Loreen Mupasiri, Director and Spokesperson of Harare Metropolitan Residents Forum said.
The workshop argued that there was need for transparency from both stakeholders in a bid to improve accountability in all budgetary issues.
“The need to have a cooperation between the two key stakeholders, Ministry of Local Governance and Public Works and the Harare City Council should be emphasised. Failure to have such an arrangement always compromises the budget formulation process.” Reuben Akilli,the CHRA Programs Coordinator said.
The workshop also argued to communication challenges as fostering for some of these inconsistencies as information was not readily available.
The workshop noted that the legal framework of Zimbabwe had an attempt to incorporate participatory budgeting through statutes that called for participation.
“The constitution of Zimbabwe incorporates the budgetary formulation’s processes inclusivity as there are various statutes that note the procedures in implementation of a budget. It is however the information dissemination that seems to be the major challenge.” Mupasiri also said.
The workshop called for council to meet its service delivery purposes that include refuse collection, statements delivery and water supply among other issues.
“Council has to understand the strong relationship that exists between budgetary issues and service delivery. Residents are only willing to meet payment of the bills that council needs for meeting budgets only when service delivery is complementary. The continued call to pay bills when the service in question is not available hinders budgetary participation through late payment.” Nyikadzino Huruva a Mabvuku resident said
The workshop recommended dialogue between stakeholders, transparency, promulgation of budgetary by laws as a requisite of efficient budgetary participation.
The workshop was attended by councillors, resident’s associations, civil society groups and residents among other stakeholders.